Sunday, 31 December 2006

Splitting Wood

Due to visitors I don't have an opportunity to go into the forest whenever I want right now. This does halt the progress on most of my projects. To weigh up I have translated one of my former articles to English. It is partially overlapping with the "Elm Bow" project.

Splitting wood is a task often needed by the primitive, especially in the construction of bigger equipment like bows and skis. But it is also useful when making something as simple as a drill. The are are to my knowledge two methods for splitting a tree: Either by pounding in a wedge into the wood from one side or an end of the piece or by chopping into the wood and splitting the piece by breaking it out of the main piece. The last method is particulary useful when you are splitting off a smaller piece of a bigger tree or when you don't have an axe.

With a wedge

To split a bigger tree to get several pieces this is the only method. For a start, an antler wedge is pounded, usually in the end, to start the crack. If the tree is small one can usually continue the split by simply seperating the two sides. If the crack shows a tendency towards running of to one side, it can be corrected by directing pressure towards the thickest side. On thicker trees this is harder to accomplish, but the problem itself is usually rarer too. By using a fork in a standing tree you can easily put leverage over on the thicker side. It does of course not work on overly large trees, but instead of just small trees you can with the aid of a fork also do the medium sized ones. If one wedge wasn't enough to make the crack go completely through the tree, pound in one from the opposite side. To make sure you get an even split, pound wedges into both sides of the crack. To save strain on your antler wedges, use wooden wedges for anything but the initial split. Below: Starting a crack from one end of the piece.

If one's plan is to split the log into even smaller pieces, one can halve the pieces the number of times needed to reach the desired size. It does however become progressively harder for every time you halve them, to keep the crack from running off to one side. Sectors are harder to halve than pieces square in cross-section. Because of this, it can be very advantageous to carve the sectors to squares to make the results more reliable. Below: The principle of guiding the crack. The thicker arrow indicates where the majority of the force should be excerted.

The same principle in practise: By using the forked tree additional force can be laid on the thicker left part.

Without wedges

This metod is difficult to explain by text only, but it is, as mentioned, very useful if you have few tools available to you. Especially if you don't have an axe. Start by sawing (with a biface for instance) halfway through the tree or branch while it's standing. When you are finished sawing you use your hand and pulls or pushes in the direction of the notch you have made. This should make the wood split in the deepest portion of the notch and you can guide the split up the tree/branch like described above. If you have no tools you can still do this if you very carefully break the sapling into the middle of it and continue as above.

If you don't need the whole tree, but you need a broad and flat piece, you can take the more ecological approach by splitting out a piece of the trunk without cutting down the whole tree. I rarely use this method, and it does require quite good tools. Make a cut into the tree in the upper and lower end of the piece you want to split and hammer an antler wedge into either or both of the notches to pop it free from the main trunk. It is an excellent method for splitting bowblanks out of large trees (for low crowns) and will often not kill the trees themselves, especially if the trees are conifers.

To most purposes you want as straight grained wood as you can get, I will because of that mentioned a few guidelines for seeing whether the grain is straight before you cut down the tree itself. Some species are generally more straight grained than others. Examples of these are spruce and pine. A wood notorious for it's twistedness is rowan and I have to this date yet to find a piece that was perfectly straight grained. It is easier to find straight grained wood growing on flat ground and in dense stands.

There are in general three signs, on which you can see whether the tree has straight grain or not:

  • Is the trunk straight and even? If not, chances are the grain itself isn't either.
  • Do the fissures in the bark go vertically towards the ground rather than spirally? That is a good sign as the bark usually has the same direction as the wood behind it.
  • Are the branches aligned vertically on top of each other. If the wood is twisted, the branches are often placed in a slight spiral on the trunk.

Illustrations will be posted tomorrow. Happy New Year!

Saturday, 30 December 2006

Elm Bow Update

Continued on my elm bow today. The thickness has been reduced and thinned down a little with the chopper and the sides have been planed down to the approximate width. Even though the stave was oiled liberally and has been stored in a tree it has dried up considerably on the surface. There is a slight sign (as yet, totally tolerable) of checking a little to one side, but I think I can remedy it by working it a little more on one side.

I use a sturdy flake as a drawknife. To protect my hands I have padded them with a piece of leather. I have shaped one limb yet. The stave is back in a tree to keep it from drying out quickly.

One point when working elm: Make sure the piece you are using is carved absolutely evenly. Otherwise it will check towards the thinner side.

Friday, 29 December 2006

Squirrel Hunt

Was out hunting red squirrels with two of my brothers today. Will not say anything about what weapons we were planning on using. ;) We saw no squirrels this time and no other game either. We did however find some more of the common polypody (Polypodium vulgare). It commonly grows in the moss on rocks.

We also found a few patches of hedgehog mushroom (Hydnum repandum), but as we had neither anything to carry them in, nor the time to make any containers so they are still available to anyone who decides to pick them. They grow in spruce forests and are exceptionally good eating. Strange seeing them in this time of year, when we should have had lots of snow.

Although we didn't see any game, we found the den of a probably hibernating badger and it's poo hole. Forgot to take any photos, but I will do it another time. We did however see a dog, seemingly not with it's owner present, the race is called "Finsk Spets".

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Arrow Sizer Update

I know there is a lot of projects that are half-finished now, but please bear over with me, I will finish them eventually. :-) Some of the projects are quite substantial and much of it takes quite a lot of time so I will only post when I reach important tresholds in the process.

This is going to be an antler arrow sizer a little out of the ordinary. I want to carve an eagle out of the tines. I have an idea of how it's going to look. We'll see if it turns out that way too.

The first step is to scrape grooves into the soft core and break it off.

Next the break is ground smooth.

Drilling the hole to pass the arrow through is done with the recently made drill.

That's all of the progress for now. Hopefully I will be able to finish the bow-blank in a few days and post further progress.

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Wild Food


Fish is and was, contrary to common belief, a staple for most primitive people, often more so than the big ungulates. Especially lake fish is confined to a limited environment and is because of that a much more reliable food source than for instance the reindeer, whose pattern of travel may vary to a great degree year over year. Getting close enough to catch them is also an issue, while the fish is easy to lure into your traps and nets by exploiting their quite limited intelligence.

In my area there are very few fish species. Mainly trout (Salmo trutta), but also arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) and/or the common whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) in some lakes. These are some of the most widely distributed anyway, so even if my experience is to a great deal limited to these species, the knowledge will be useful in a lot of places. Many of the methods can also be used for other species as well, maybe even in the sea for all I know.

The Trout

Fishing for trout in substantial quantities is difficult because of their solitary nature. At one time of they year, they are however exceptionally easy. When the trout runs on the rivers or streams to spawn in the autumn they can easily be caught, even with the hands. Photo shows lots of small trout caught in a few hours. The dark skin comes from living in a lake heavily influenced by bog water.

The most common method of hand fishing is called “tickeling”. Being rather basic animals, the trout believes that it is hidden whenever it can't see anything. Consequently, you can quite often spot the tail of the trout under a log or a rock. But anyway, chances are that you will see where the fish swims away from you and into hiding. By gently stroking the trout from the tail and forwards it will stand still, because it actually likes it. That affection is likely to come to an abrupt halt when you suddenly grab it by the gills and throws it ashore. Fish in hiding can also be speared, by for example probing under a bank.

You can also use spears, clubs or whatever to take out the fish. The club works best with a run and hit tactic. By running into a river and bashing at everything that moves you can kill or stun a few fish. Leave the river alone for a few hours and repeat the procedure.

Spearing with a torch is very, very efficient. The light calms and attracts the fish. But the torch has to burn brightly, without being made with either fat, birch bark, pitch or fat wood as a component, chances are the fish will not be mesmerised. When spearing fish, aiming at the neck makes for the surest kill, but be aware of that the light bends in the water. Sneak the spear slowly towards the aiming point of the fish (through water if needed) and thrust in an explosive movement. The spear is usually held in the right hand while you hold the torch with the left. Put your hand far up the spear to get most control and force. Pin the fish to the bottom until you manage to grab it with your hand to bring it on shore. With this method you can easily spear dozens in a short time.

If you have a net, chasing (by throwing rocks) the fish into the net or seine-netting a pool can give you hundreds at a time. Alternatively, block the passage of the water with a wall, leaving only a little opening where you set your landing net you can get quite a few fish too. Then start scaring the fish from above and into the only available exit, which is your net. Where the fish run on the exit river of a lake this can be used as a permanent installation, emptied every day. A related method is the fish basket, where the funnel inside guides the fish into the basket, but their limited intelligence make them unable to find the exit. This trap can be used in conjunction with a wall in an upstream run. Below is a crude basket trap.

Not all trout spawn in rivers or streams, some spawn in the lakes and all the fish in a lake doesn't spawn each year, particularly in lakes with bigger fish. Because of that, setting nets on strategic locations around the lake can bring a good catch. Such locations are usually inlets, outside of peninsulas or river out or intakes.

The same goes for spring. But particularly newly ice-cleared river intakes are sought by the winter-lean trout, seeking food brought by the flooding rivers or streams. Setting a net there overnight will often yield a good catch.

Summer is a poor season for fishing. The water is too hot for much movement and the brightness reveal your nets to the fish. Instead of using nets at this time of year, this is the time when the hook and line represents the best available alternative. For a more industrious approach; baited long-lines.

The fish move less in winter, but can still be caught with hook and line. In the winter the fish is found in deeper portions of the lake, but as spring approaches they move closer to shore. Netting under the ice is somewhat efficient on trout, but far more so on the next species described.

Arctic Char

Of these three species, the one I have the least experience with. It is a social fish, running in shoals. It is mostly pelagic and quite hard to catch in summer time, especially on lower altitude lakes where it goes deeper than the trout. Below: Small arctic char caught in ice fishing.

In late autumn (November approximately) the char goes into shore to spawn and is then to be found in very large shoals and is easily caught with nets. If there is ice you can either put nets under the ice, fish with bait or spear the fish like the Inuits sometimes do. The char is quite easy to catch under the whole period with ice.

Common Whitefish

This fish also moves about in shoals and due to a small mouth almost impossible to use hook and line on. Nets are about the only good option for this specie. A few places it runs in slow flowing rivers, but for a great part it spawns in the lake itself. In summer it is usually found in the deeper portions of the lake, but some can be caught in the shallows too. The fish spawns in late October and November, by setting nets outside peninsulas at that time you can catch lots and lots of this fat fish. If the ice is firm, you can also set nets under the ice, which can provide you with whitefish throughout the winter. How to set nets under the ice will be described in a seperate article as the procedure is quite complicated. The spring is also a reasonably good time to catch this fish in nets, but the fish is, as everything else, leaner then.

Dressing the Fish (illustrations will be edited in as they become available)

Start the cut by inserting the tip of the knife in the anus. Cut up all the way until you reach a harder structure almost at the throat. Rip up the tongue and gills from underneath the gill cover. Stick a finger into the throat and rip the pectoral fins off and the entire digestive system with it. Optionally you can scrape out the “kidneys”, a blackish substance sticking to the back from the inside commonly believed to be blood. If you are to fry the fish, skinning or scaling the whitefish is recommended. Of the organs, all can be eaten, including the roe and sperm. Photo is of me, dressing a few trout in front of the lavvo.

Cooking fish will be handled in a later article. This article series will be temporarily discontinued until I have enough photographic material to post the remaining articles (Mammals, cooking, shellfish, seaweeds, lichens etc...).

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Skin Pouch Update

For eight days I have had the skins in the water along with the alder bark. I checked upon the skins today and turned them, as parts were not totally submerged before. The skins show yet no signs of having soaked up any tannin, no change in colour whatsoever. I am beginning to think my solution is too weak. The ear skins are thinner than the leg hides, so I will probably take them out of the solution to dry if they show signs of changing colour in another week or so.

If I find time, I may add more bark to the solution at a point over the next days.

A Break From Christmas

When I was out getting the elm for my bow yesterday there was a few other discoveries worth mentioning. I forgot my camera, so the only photo is staged.

I saw two ospreys (Pandion haliaetus). They frequent that area, scouring the river for salmon and trout. Quite majestetic birds.

For the first time I found great burdock (Arctium lappa). The seeds were destroyed, but now I know where to go to find them for replanting at home, where they are not found. Another plant (fern) I found is the Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare). It's root is very sweet in taste and can be eaten raw like candy. In addition to it's sweetness it has a slight licorice taste. Photo below.

Elm Bow Update

The survival bow is fine, but I want one strong enough to bring down whatever I encounter. In this region the superior bow-wood is clearly elm (Ulmus glabra). There are however a few downsides to this wood. It is hard to find a properly straight bow-length piece and it has a seriously bad tendency to warp sideways. This has ruined several good bowstaves for me so, I hope this will not happen this time.

To reduce the risk of warping I will keep the bow-stave oiled and to dry it as slowly as possible, it will be seasoned outside. Also, cutting the wood in winter, when the sap is down, will hopefully help too. The bow will be worked green to it's near-finished dimentions and then dried.

I found a very good stave yesterday, it's quite remarkably straight for being elm and has smooth bark, which I have found to indicate good wood qualities. Coarse bark almost invariably means thin growth rings. It was cut down with an antler axe

After using the same axe to cut it to a more managable length, which is still much longer than the finished bow will be, it was split. To make sure that a major knot did not end up in on the back of a limb, the antler wedge was hammered through the knot to start the split.

I decided to split free the thick end first. When it comes to splitting wood, there are a few handy tricks:
- Hammer in wooden wedges from both sides, that will reduce the risk of the split running off to one side.
- Use a fork in a tree to guide the crack if it starts to run off to one side. Put a little more pressure to the thick side to get the crack bak in the middle.
- If you meet resistance at a point, use an antler wedge to drive through whatever is budging.

First below: Pounding in wedges from both sides.
Second below: Guiding the split with a tree fork.

The best half was chosen and an approximate outline written on the belly side (inside) with charcoal. To measure the middle point of the bow, make one of the bark strips as long as the bow, fold it over and you have half the lenght of the bow. Photo is of the two halves, of which the left one was chosen.

The antler axe proved ineffective for removing wood from sides of the bow, so I ended up with a combination of chopping with a core of flint and splitting in the budging places with the antler wedge. This stage is far from finished, and I will probably continue this work today.

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Bone and Antler Arrow Points

Finished two points the other day. One are made of reindeer antler and the other of sheep bone. They are narrow because of these materials' inferior sharpness and I will not use them for anything over the size of roe deer or perhaps reindeer due to the probable lack of bleeding qualities.

Have anyone tried making Plains Indian style arrow points from hardened hide or sinew? Just for a curiousity I tried that once. My results were far from satisfying, so if someone has an idea on how it was done, please tell me.

Antler Axe Repairs

Antler axes work wonderfully when sharp. A newly sharpened axe chops down wrist thick trees in short order. But they don't keep their edge very well. Also there is the risk of more major chipping and splitting, making labourious repairs neccesary.

My double edged antler axe has one edge that is too weak, even after a recent major reparation it has now cracked and chipped again. The other edge holds up well, but I have decided to rework this axe into a tranchet axe as soon as I get hold some decent sized good flaking stone for the bit. This photo shows the too thin wall of hard material on the right side, which is the bit. If you look closely you may also see that the edge has cracked and chipped.

Another development on this front is that the big antler axe on this photo finally has been ground to a usable bevel, even if it still is a little broad.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Drill Update

When the drill bit is finished there isn't really much work left to be done. The shaft of of this particular drill is a former hand drill of wild rose. When using the method for hafting described here it is a clear advantage with a big pith, something which wild rose indeed has.

First I cut off a piece of the end, by sawing around with a serrated flake and breaking it. A very easy task with such a pithy material.

After measuring the depth of the slot I want the bit to sit in I drill a small hole on that point on opposite sides of the shaft. You can easily use a flake for this task.

Some shallow grooves are made on the width you need. Use an antler wedge to split out the wood in between. Carve out as much as needed of the pith and edges with a flake.

Seperate a strand or two of sinew from a backstrap (or leg tendon) and wet them in your mouth to moisten them. Make sure the point sits in the slot such that the shaft will not wobble when spun.

Wrap the wet sinew around the point and shaft to securely haft it. When it has dried up you can snap off the ends of the sinew with a flake.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Drill Update

Being able to drill holes is not neccesarily essential in primitive skills, but it makes life a lot easier. The drill bit can mounted on a hand drill, bow drill or pump drill. The hand drill is the simplest and to me seems easier on the bits than bow drill since there isn't as much sideways torque. The bit can be a simple pointed stone or even bone or antler, but I feel knapped stone has a better combination between stability and hardness than the other alternatives. Storm uses quartz chrystals, which are potentially an even better material, but I unfortunately don't have any available to me at this time.

Knapping the bit

To understand knapping, you need to understand how stone breaks. The force of the blow is distrbuted in a conical shape beneath the blow. A cone itself isn't very useful, but when you understand that this is the way the force from the hammer (either stone, antler or hard wood) goes you know that you will need to tilt the core away from the direction of the blow to achieve a flake instead. The angle is different for the different hammer materials used. The drawing shows hammerstone striking off a flake at left, in the middle working the flake with an antler billet, upper right shows the principle of abrading the edges, lower right shows pressure flaking.

This is the principle of all knapping, but with fine pressure flaking you need to press more in the direction of the flake because the force is less sudden and the force travels in a more delayed fashion. This is a function both of the material used (antler) and the speed of application. Below I am using an elk (moose) antler billet to strike off a flake.

If the force isn't sufficient to fully free the flake from the core, you will end up with step fractures. They are abrupt changes in direction of the break and chances are, unless you strike off a very thick flake and thereby removing the step, every succeeding flake will end in that step, in effect reinforcing the step in every removal. The easiest remedy for a serious step is usually to attack it from a different angle, either from the the opposite end or from one of the sides.

When knapping, thinking in stages is quite recommendable, but I often mix them a little as suits me best. The first stage after the flake removal is to make the flake regular and thin it. This is usually done by using a soft hammer, like an antler billet. On smaller pieces you may do it by pressure flaking. Below: Pressure flaking in my own hazardous way.

When the perform is finished, you can start shaping the piece by pressure flaking. By putting a lot of pressure on the edge quite parallell to the flake itself, you will further thin the blank. This is not always what is wanted however, especially in the last phases of the knapping where you may want to strenghten the edge instead of thinning it. To achieve that use more sideways instead of parallell pressure. To be able to apply enough pressure to press off good sized flakes and to have strong enough platforms for striking of blades you will often need to abrade the edges to strengthen them.

Safety isn't my strong point to be honest, but since the flakes are horribly sharp it should be taken into consideration. I don't use googles, where would I get those in the wild? But by pressure flaking towards your palm (pad it with leather) or a hard surface the flakes will more than likely not hit your eyes. Being of a rather lazy nature, I often take a shortcut on this and pressure flake with my index finger and thumb pinch. If you don't take care that can cause flakes to fly in your face. If you get a small flake in you eye, it can usually be removed by blinking under water. But by all means, be careful. The photo shows the safer way of pressure flaking.

This drill bit is now finished and ready to be hafted. These instructions can be applied to most knapping and certainly arrowheads. Sorry the poor quality of the photo.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Wild Food


Hardly a big nutritive element in the primitivist's diet, the fungi still is interesting because of it's flavour and it's value as a variation. Some can be eaten raw, but mostly they are eaten cooked in stews due to their bulk qualities. They can level out a little of either bland or slightly foul taste. Most fungi preserve well after drying in thin slices on a string as long as they are stored in a dry environment. Far from all types of edible fungi will be covered here. Only the most easily recognisable and those who are frequently found in the Norwegian wilds are included. Do consult a good mushroom manual before picking and eating fungi. Don't trust my information blindly.


This family has very meaty mushrooms, excellent for stews with their bulk and texture. They a network of tubes under the cap, which is the certain identification of the Boletus genus. Only a few species are poisonous and they can be identified by their red stems. The young specimens are usually the best ones. Older ones become limp and highly insect infested. On the photo are several species of edible boletus.


The “true” chantarelle is the most easily identifiable one, but some of the less conspicuous ones are far more common. Their taste is quite sharp and slightly peppery. They don't get as infested with insects and usually have a longer season than the Boletus. Photo: A day's catch, the ptarmigan is my brother's. In the plastic box are two species of chantarelle.


Members of the Russula genus are usually brightly toned, but the colours differ from specie to specie. Some of the edible ones can look a little like fluesopp. One of the clear differences are however lack of a ring on the stem. To test whether it is an edible Russula, take a small bit of the cap and taste it. If it tastes good and mild the specie is edible. If foul or sharp in taste, spit it out as it is either poisonous or non-edible.


Some species of this genus are easily identifiable due to the orange “sap”, which become green about an hour after making a cut in the mushroom. They taste sharply, but good. Not tried them myself yet, but they abound in the forests.

Hydnum repandum

This mushroom has an even stronger taste than the chantarell, but I wouldn't describe the taste as peppery. It is easily identifiable by it's bleak cap with spikes underneath.

Albatrellus ovinus

Though this specie isn't said to be much in the kitchen (have yet to test this), it is easily identifiable with it's off-white cap and pores underneath. They are often quite large and grow in great quantity amongst spruce.

Used Norwegian books for detailed information, but was cross-referenced with information from MushroomExpert.Com.

Next Wednesday: Fish

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Testing The Snowshoes

Tested my snowshoes yesterday. They worked fine, but as I had anticipated, they had a tendency for falling off. That can probably be easily remedied by strapping a piece of string through the loops. I have seen that way of attaching the shoes on some snowshoes I have at home.

Also had a go at a red squirrel, missed by a few inches regretfully, but traps will be up within a few days. The trushes and waxwings are out feeding on the rowans now. Would have been an excellent opportunity for setting some snares...

Quicky Bow

The bow is in it's most basic form a very simple construction. It doesn't need to be more than a stick strung with a cord. It will essentially be effective for killing small game on short range. Two methods for making such a bow will be described here.

Method 1

This method is the quickest and was the only way I made bows until I was about 12 years old. Conifers are best for this type of bow as they are "drier" and snappier in their fresh state. I prefer juniper (Juniperus communis).

Chose a relatively straight tree, chop it down, break off the top and the branches and string it up. That is all. You know have an acceptable, but assymetrical bow. The bow will increase in strength over the days as it dries up and will eventually become so dry that it becomes brittle. But then it will already have served you for weeks, and you can easily make a new one.

A suggested improvement on this type of bow is to split or carve off quite a lot of material from the centre and down on the belly side of the thickest limb. This way you will achieve a more symmetrical bow. Symmetrical bows are easier to shoot and more efficient. The reason why I didn't do that on this particular bow was due to lack of time.

Method 2

The second method is better if all you have available to you is hardwood or the conifers are so thin, thick or brittle that they arn't usable for the other type of bow. This method also give you a longer lasting bow, as it will not become too dry.

Choose a wood that can stand a lot of abuse. Rowan, oak and elm are good candidates. Choose a straight tree with no branches and a diametre a little thicker than you think you need to achieve the draw-weight you are looking for.

Strip off the bark and work the bow on the belly and the sides on the thicker end to get a more symmetric bow. Floor tiller to test the bending strenght on both sides.

When you have the symmetry you want, cut notches in the ends of the bow and dry it by the fire. If there are any bends you can straighten them out at the same time. This will take the rest of the day, but it will still take a lot shorter time than if you were using conventional methods. When the bow is no longer sluggish to shoot, but snaps back quickly, the water content is reduced sufficiently for it to be usable. It will continue to loose moisture over a long period of time and become stiffer and stiffer, but it is essentially finished at this point. Sorry I don't have a photo of a finished bow of this type. Couldn't find it.

Remember that it doesn't matter so much how your bow is like. Accuracy lie in your aim and your arrow.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Skin Pouch Update

Started yet another project yesterday. The ear skins and two of leg hides of an elk (moose) were thawed and the excess moisture was soaked up by the snow.

I scraped the bark of two alder trees off with my cannon bone flesher. It is very effective for that purpose and even shreds the bark at the same time. I gathered enough bark to about equal the weight of skins.

The bark was distributed evenly on the flesh-side and the skins laid in a stack.

Lacking a waterproof primitive container I decided to cheat a little here, please bear over with me. I used a empty ice-cream box, put the skins with the bark on in, filled it with water and have now left them to soak up the tannin with the lid on to conserve moisture. I will leave them for a few weeks, but I do a check every now and then to see how it goes.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Bone Needle

Made a new bone needle yesterday. The bone is one of the bones connected to the toes on the elk (moose). It was cleaned with a flake and reduced in lenght by abrading on the edge of my abrading stone.

The bone has the approximate shape of a needle, but is too tapering. The bone is abraded narrower and is cut even a little shorter to a better length.

Though you can drill the hole after finishing it, I prefer to do it before, in case my drilling doesn't hit dead centre. It can be done with either a hand drill or a simple flake. I used the latter method on this particular needle. Drill from both sides and carefully join the holes with an awl.

The needle is finished by scraping it with a flake (more like a block this one) and rounding the edges. This particular needle ended up a little too thick in the rear end for my taste, but to not compromise the strenght of the eye I couldn't go much narrower.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Ground Stone Axe Update

Though I have come to be very fond of antler axes, I like stone axes too. The advantages with ground stone over antler is, though not much sharper, it holds it's edge better. In comparison to flaked axes the edge is more stable and unlikely to chip unless you hit a stone or something.

I have made two of these axe (celt) heads before. One was hafted and tested and it definately worked very well. The second one still needs to be hafted. On this photo that particular head is found on the far right, the pecking stone (previously a hand axe from quartzite) to the left and the head in progress in the middle.

River cobbles often provide a minimum of work to make an axe. The one in centre on this photo has been integrity tested by chipping off a little piece in the front. Good axe stone is homogenous and hard.

The first stage in producing an axe head is to peck it down to the approximate shape. Be careful on the edge, not to chip the stone. The sharper a piece you use as a pecking stone, the more precise you can do the pecking and it is also faster. The next phase on making this axe is to grind the edge of the head sharp. By the way, I don't usually peck stone in the bedroom, this photo is staged. ;-)